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position, Daniel was an object of envy to the nobles of the land. They could ill bear that a foreigner, and a captive should be preferred before them, and they plotted together for his ruin. But to effect this was no easy thing. Daniel was so well established in the king's favour; his reputation for wisdom and skill in government was so justly great, that it required the utmost care and cleverness on the part of his enemies, to carry out their design against him.
At first they sought occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but here they failedforasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.
Baffled in this attempt, they looked to another quarter. They had noticed how constant Daniel was to his religion. Here, they thought, we shall be able to take him. We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.
What they did, is told in a few words. They went to Darius, and prayed him to put forth a decree, forbidding any person for thirty days to ask any petition, either of God or man, save of the king only, on pain of being cast into the den of lions. Darius not suspecting their aim, signed the decree; and in signing it, signed, they fondly hoped, the death-warrant of faithful Daniel. For what now was his position ? if he prayed within thirty days he must die. If he forbore to prayif for one month he lived a prayerless life, why then he would be spared; but spared only at the cost of violating his conscience. What, then, was Daniel's choice ?— life without prayer ? or prayer with the penalty of cruel, instant death? Hear it in the words of the text,— Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and the windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
If we examine these words, we shall find a great deal in them to suggest matter for profitable meditation.
First, then-when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his chamber, and set open its windows toward Jerusalem. Now, what did this action signify? It signified that while in the midst of a heathen nation, surrounded by idols, and superstitious vanities, Daniel recognised one only Being, as the object of his worship—the God of his fathers, the God of Israel, the God who had chosen Jerusalem to put His name there. Of which city and her temple He had said, This shall be my rest for ever, here will I dwell!
I repeat it, brethren, that opening of the windows towards Jerusalem was a mark that Daniel kept true to the worship of his fathers, and was not to be induced, by any threat or promise, to go after other gods and serve them. And in this he is a pattern to us.
We think too little, far too little, of the blessedness of our long-established religion, of the opportunities which our Church affords us, for learning the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. It were better, could we catch from Daniel some of that reverent spirit, that heartfelt love with which he, an exile, regarded the religion of his fathers, and the spot on which it was centred. It would be a great safeguard to us, in many dangers, if we, like him, kept open the windows of our soul towards Jerusalem-if we turned, after his example, to the church of our forefathers, as to the place, above all others, where we ought to worship—the place hallowed by a thousand recollections - where God has promised to meet us, —where He hears, and answers prayer!
Again, the text says of Daniel, after he had opened the windows of his chamber toward Jerusalem, that he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed. He kneeled
his knees ! Evidently his custom was to worship God with body, soul, and spirit - to give to the Lord all that was due to Him, to omit nothing in his act of worship which might serve to express the earnestness of his supplication, and the depth of his humility. So he kneeled
his knees! He did not think it a matter of indifference, how, or in what posture, he should place himself before God. He thought that for the creature, in the immediate presence of its Creator, the lowliest posture was the most becoming.
Can we say that he was wrong? Can we say that we are right ?—that we show all due respect to Almighty God, when in the time of prayer we sit, and do not kneel before Him? Oh! surely not. Whatever be our practice in the matter, we really, I am persuaded, feel the same in our own hearts about it. There is a still small voice there, which rebukes us for our irreverence. We cannot deny that our Church has reason on her side, when in one of her services she bids us, in so many words, to “make our humble confession to Almighty God, meekly kneeling upon our knees!”
And next, note the frequency of Daniel's prayer-how often he gave himself to it. He kneeled upon his knees three times a-day, and prayed.
Three times a-day! . It was the same with David. As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. In the evening, and morning, and at noonday will I pray, and that instantly: and
He shall hear my voice. And the same appears to have been the practice of the earliest Christians. They were all with one accord in one place-doubtless, for prayer; and it was the third hour of the day. (Acts, ii. 1.) Peter went up upon the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. (Acts, x. 9.) Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. (Acts, iii. 1.) At nine, then, at noon, at three in the afternoon, these holy men in the old time betook themselves to prayer. No doubt they prayed at other times as well. No doubt Daniel lived a life of constant communing with God; but with this, he had fixed hours, for distinct acts of devotion. He retired to his chamber, and there, shut in alone, three times each day of his life he kneeled down, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God !
Surely this is written for our admonition ! Surely to many of us, who lead, I fear, prayerless lives, it must sound as a reproach and a warning !
For what are we that we should neglect prayer? Are we sufficient of ourselves to do anything right or good of ourselves? Is not our sufficiency of God ? Have we not truly said it in the Collect for this day—“O God, without thee we are not able to please thee?” Indeed it is
We are not able of ourselves to please God. The power must come to us from Him.